Aug 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Kamala Harris responds to "birther" smears

Democratic vice presidential running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris, speaks to the press after receiving a briefing on COVID-19 in Wilmington, Delaware, on August 13
Democratic vice presidential running mate Sen. Kamala Harris at a Thursday briefing in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) addressed a baseless conspiracy theory pushed by a Trump campaign official and others claiming she may be ineligible for the vice presidency because both her parents weren't naturalized citizens at her birth.

What she's saying: "They're going to engage in lies, they're going to engage in deception, they’re going to engage in an attempt to distract from the real issues that are impacting the American people," the California-born presumptive Democratic presidential nominee told The Grio in an interview published Sunday.

  • "And I expect they will engage in dirty tactics and this is going to be a knock-down, drag-out and we're ready," the first woman of color on a presidential ticket added.

Driving the news: Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis shared a Newsweek op-ed last Thursday making the debunked claim that Harris was ineligible. The article was widely denounced as a fresh attempt at "birtherism" — the racist conspiracy theory circa 2008 that accused then-President Obama of not being born in the U.S.

  • Newsweek added an editor's note on Friday night apologizing for the article, written by John Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University.
  • President Trump told reporters Saturday his campaign would "not be pursuing" the claim, but he refused to say affirmatively that Harris is, in fact. eligible, Axios' Jacob Knutson notes.
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